Sunday, 15 September 2013

In A World, dir/scr. Lake Bell, st. Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Rob Corddry, Nick Offerman, Tig Notaro

Recipient of the Best Screenplay gong at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Lake Bell's writing and directorial debut is a disarmingly funny indie set in the world of voice-over work - the re-dubbing and looping for underperforming actors, yes, but also trailer narration of the Don LaFontaine kind, whose woofer-rumbling phrase "In a world..." has entered into the lexicon as a succinct aural ident for movie trailer openings. Bell plays Carol, daughter of Sam Soto (Melamed channeling Stephen Tobolowsky), the "king of voiceovers"and pretender to the the vacant LaFontaine throne, who suddenly finds herself homeless after her Dad decides his much younger girlfriend Jamie (Ross' student squeeze Alexandra Holden) would make a more exciting housemate than his daughter. Struggling to make it in a decidedly male-dominated world, Carol oscillates between cruising the lobby of her concierge sister Dani's (Watkins) hotel, dictaphone in hand, hoping to pick up accents and intonations from the multicultural guests, and knuckling down to some seriously tedious VO work at her pal Louis' (Martin) recording studio, voicing lame-o adverts or re-cockneyfying Eva Longoria. The beauty of In A World comes from its ability to breezily suggest and nudge towards the numerous plot developments without it feeling like the kind of rigid diversionless unidirectional railroad laid down by lesser bit bigger budgeted movies. For such a modest film, handsomely but economically realised, there's a ton of stuff going on. A threeway conflict between Carol, her Father, and rising VO artist Gustav Warner (Marino channeling a Baldwin) gives rise to a superb clash of ego and gender entitlement, whilst Louis' mumbling bumbling courtship of Carol is genuinely touching minus the propensity to over egg the gilded lily pudding with laugh-a-minute gags or touchy-retchy close-ups. But the true joy of In A World is the industry-reflective subject matter that prods and probes a technical artistry that hides in plain sight. Films about struggling actors are a dime-a-dozen, but through Bell, Carol's passion for a less floodlit skill and unbridled glee at slivers of increasing success in the field is rousingly contagious.